Snorkeling an ATV requires drilling holes, running hoses, sealing up your air box, etc. So you may ask “Should I do this? Do I need to snorkel my ATV?” Here is my opinion.
Should you snorkel your ATV? If you plan to drive your ATV through any type of mud or water, then yes. Most ATV companies design their four wheelers for trails or work related uses only. They are not designed for deep mud or water. You may be thinking, “What if I only go through smaller mud holes?”. You're right, you do not need a snorkel for the shallow muck. But, eventually you will come across a mud hole deeper than you thought and want that relief of knowing your ATV is going to be just fine. To protect your hard earned money that you have invested into your ride, I strongly recommend installing a snorkel on your ATV if you plan to ride through any type of mud or water.
If you are interested in the PROS and CONS of installing a snorkel on your ATV, plus more, keep reading. I believe this post will give you an answer to whether or not you want to install a snorkel on your ATV.
What does an ATV Snorkel Do?
A snorkel allows your ATV to breathe and vent underneath water. If you drive your ATV through deep water without a snorkel kit installed, your intake hose will take on water and then your engine will suck the water through your air filter, causing your engine to stall.
Along with the intake, some ATV’s have a belt housing which requires an intake and an outlet to allow air to flow through preventing your belt from overheating. These two ports would take on water as well which would cause your belt to slip resulting in no power to the wheels.
There are several components on an ATV that need to be snorkeled higher than the mud or water you intend to go through or sealed to prevent water from entering. These components include:
- Air Intake
- Belt Housing Intake (if belt driven)
- Belt Housing Exhaust (if belt driven)
- Front and Rear Differential Vent Lines
- Carburetor Vent Line (if you have a carburetor)
- Crankcase Vent Line
- Electrical Connections
- Air Box Lid
Pros Of Snorkeling Your ATV
Drastically decreases the chance of hydro-locking your engine.
When water enters your engine and gets on top of the piston, you can easily hydro-lock your ATV’s engine and have to replace it. Your ATV, like any other gas engine, has an internal combustion engine, which consist of a piston going up and down from a small explosion at the top. If there is water on top of the piston, then the piston cannot complete its stroke to the top which will cause your engine to lock up.
Removes the stress of riding through deep water or mud.
After you have installed your snorkel kit onto your ATV and begin to go through that first deep mud hole, you will instantly feel so relieved and stress free. No more worrying about your intake going under the water and no more worrying about totaling your nice, expensive ride.
Ability to access untraveled areas.
Before, on some trail rides you may of had to turn around because there was a mud or water hole that was just too sketchy to cross. Now, hit the gas and don’t look back… as long as it is not too deep of course. ATV’s do not float well lol.
Ability to have 10x more fun on your ATV.
Now you can finally follow your buddies almost anywhere in the trials. No more sitting on the bank waiting for them to come back through the hole. No more being the camera person recording all of the fun your friends are having; but now, you will be the one getting recorded and having a blast at the same time.
Cons Of Snorkeling Your ATV
Possibly voids your ATV’s warranty.
For most ATV companies, yes, a snorkel will void your warranty. These companies understand that the person who snorkels their ATV is not going to follow the instructions on how to properly drive an ATV which puts the ATV at risk of getting critically damaged.
Can Am actually sells their own OEM snorkel kit that does not void the warranty, even though the warranty is only 6 months long. They understand the average ATV rider that wants to go mudding needs a snorkel so they shortened the warranty period and offered their own snorkel kit.
Can be difficult to install.
A snorkel kit can be difficult to install because it involves drilling large holes into your plastics, sealing up items such as your air box lid and electrical, running vent lines, cutting pipes and hose to the proper length, etc. I would invest a few hours of research before purchasing anything and then an entire day for installation.
Can snag limbs in the trails.
When riding on trails, you will come across a vine or limb hanging down and it will most likely get caught on your Snorkel, depending on how high your snorkel is raised. Not a big deal, just drive slow through those spots and push the limb or vine to the side with your hand.
Installation will require cutting holes into your front fender.
Most snorkels come up through the front fender in the center or one snorkel on each side. This requires a hole approximately 2” in diameter. The snorkel has to be large in diameter to enable your engine to receive the necessary air it needs to maintain its power.
Takes up space on your front rack.
Like mentioned before, most snorkels are mounted through your front fender. This will take up space on your front rack which can prevent you from hauling certain items on the front of your ATV. This can also affect how you plan to mount a sound bar or your radiator (if you want to relocate it). These are just some things to think about in advance.
Does an ATV snorkel affect performance?
The installation of a typical snorkel kit will not increase or decrease performance of your ATV. Now, if the snorkel is custom built and the air intake snorkel pipe is larger than the factory air intake hose (inside diameter), then your ATV will receive more air flow and can gain a little more power than before. But for the most part, the average snorkel kit will not affect the performance of your ATV.
Should you Snorkel your Exhaust?
Depends on the size of your ATV’s engine and how deep you plan to go. It’s all about air flow. If your ATV can’t push out the air, it will shut off. If your ATV can’t get air, it will shut off. An ATV with a large engine will pull in and push out more air than a smaller engine. If there is not enough air getting pushed out of the exhaust to prevent water from entering, then the water will block the air getting pushed out and shut off your ATV.
I had this problem with my Yamaha Big Bear 400. It’s an older four wheeler and the spark arrestor inside the muffler was clogged with dirt, which restricted the amount of air being pushed out of the exhaust. So every time I took her under the water if would shut off. After I unclogged the spark arrestor the air flow got better and it quit shutting off.
Moral of the story is that if you have a smaller engine (<400cc) and plan to go deep, then yes, install a snorkel for your exhaust. All you have to do is weld you a 3 foot exhaust pipe that goes straight up and hooks back down to prevent the rain from getting inside. Also, bolt on a bracket that connects to your rear rack to help support the welds on your new muffler.